America's nordic combined team begins its stretch run to the 2002 Winter Games with its annual World Cup stop in Steamboat Springs, Colo.

The world's top combiners will compete in two events Dec. 16-18. Many U.S. team members calls Steamboat Springs home and have performed well in the past in front of the local crowd. Steamboat native Todd Lodwick, who has been impressive on the current World Cup circuit, captured one of the hometown competitions last year.

Following the World Cup event, U.S. nordic combiners and ski jumpers will compete in the U.S. Ski Team Gold Cup in Steamboat Dec. 19. The winner from both disciplines will secure an automatic spot on the Olympic team.